How I Learned to Embrace Life's Transitions

 
 

"What is wrong with you?!  You are all over the map!"  My husband was exasperated. "One day you want one thing and the next you want something completely different. Can you just pick?"

He was right – I was all over the map. We got married and ten weeks later I bought the financial planning firm I had been working in. I was overwhelmed with the transitions that were happening in my life. I was now expected to be a wife and a business owner, neither of which I had any experience, but desperately wanted to do both well. I was in uncharted territory. There were new expectations on me and I didn’t know how to meet those expectations, or even at times what the new expectations were. Many of the reference points that guided me so clearly before seemed irrelevant now and I felt lost.

Even through the uncertainty, there were several things I knew. I knew I was passionate about working in financial planning as well as working with recently widowed women. As I continued my research in how to best serve recently widowed women, I joined the Sudden Money program, an organization that trains financial advisors on how to help clients manage transition. In just the first set of training, my unknowing response to my recent transitions started to make sense. They use an illustration that shows what it’s like navigating your way through a transition.

There are several things this illustration clarified for me.

Transitions mean moving forward

Leaving behind life as it was is hard and oftentimes comes with many different layers of grief for what was lost. When I got married, even though that was a positive transition, I was still experiencing loss - the loss if independence that I had valued so dearly and the "options" I felt I had when it was just me. Grief, even when you are transitioning to something better is an important step in making a successful transition.

Transitions also require uncertainty

Uncertainty about what steps we need to take to the "new normal" and what that process will look like. It would be easy to list out the steps we need to take to get from point A to point B, but it's just not the way transitions work. Even the most planned transitions cannot account for the emotional experience of whoever is walking through it.

Transitions require a sense of hope

Hope that someday you will have a "new normal."  Hope that you're not broken forever and the pieces can be put back together, when the transition feels like a scene out of your worst nightmare. Hope that you can move into a new phase of life that will be fulfilling and filled with life. I hoped that someday I would be able to run a successful business that would have a meaningful impact on my client's lives while prioritizing my new husband and future family.

I learned several things about myself in my transition.

Lesson 1: It's okay to be "all over the board."  

That is a normal part of the transition process. Given this realization, I set up guidelines to protect myself during this period - no excessive spending, no big decisions, no commitments that would require a significant amount of my time and energy. This was important because I wanted to be successful, and knew I wasn't in the right frame of mind to make long lasting decisions. The last thing I wanted to do was to unknowingly sabotage my future. Many people had opinions, oftentimes unsolicited about what I should do yet few took the time to really listen to who I was and the values that I held most dear, regardless of situation. I knew that wherever life took me, these values were elements that were going to be the building blocks of my future.

Lesson 2: be patient with yourself

I realized it would take time to reach my "new normal" and that I had to go through the uncertainty and the process of transition before I could truly discover who I wanted to be at the end of the transition.

Lesson 3: care for Yourself

I started exercising on a regular basis and started counseling. I took notice of what I was eating and made sure that I was putting food in my body that would help instead of hurt me. Taking time for these things brought a sense of normalcy that helped guide me through my transitions. It kept me present in the process so I could confidently find the right path for me.

When there is a transition, it often includes many financial uncertainties. If you or someone you love is going through a recent transition and concerned about making wise decisions, schedule a free 30 minute consultation with Hannah.